How to Stop Excessive Barking
Like us, canines use both verbal and nonverbal cues to communicate. Barking is one of the many forms of vocal communication your pup uses, like speaking for humans. For worse or for better, our canine friends have figured out that barking is one of the most effective ways they can communicate with their people.
There are certain situations in which barking can be tremendously helpful to owners. For example, your dog’s barks may alert you to people approaching your home or bring to your attention that your pup wants or needs something from you. But excessive barking can be irritating and disruptive. The first step to putting an end to excessive barking is to figure out the reason(s) behind your canine companion’s vocalizations.
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Reasons for barking
Dogs are naturally territorial animals. When a person or another animal comes into a space that your pup considers their territory, your dog is likely to instinctively feel threatened or fearful and perceive a need to be protective of their area or “pack.” Barking in this scenario is your dog’s attempt to both fend off the intruder and alert you to the threat. This reaction can also happen when they are spooked by loud noises like thunder or the vacuum cleaner. Your furry friend’s barking may also be accompanied by growls.
Dogs often bark when they’re happy to be greeting people or other animals. Maybe they know—or hope—that these friends will give them treats, scratch their belly, or play with them. These happy barks will likely be high-pitched and accompanied by yipping, yowling, tail wagging, and jumping.
Descendants of wolves, our canine companions are pack animals by nature. When left alone for long periods of time, they can become bored. Dogs may bark to express that they are unhappy, lonely, and looking for entertainment and stimulation.
As pets living in our homes, dogs aren’t self-sufficient and can’t typically do anything they want whenever they want. They need the help of their owners to go outside and eat. But it’s not always their basic needs that our pups are barking at us about—dogs often bark or whine when they want to play, get a treat, be cuddled, or get any other form of attention. You can usually distinguish attention-seeking barking as long strings of sharp, single barks.
Pups with separation anxiety often bark or whine excessively went left alone. This is similar to wanting attention and or being scared when left alone.
If your dog is in pain, they may yelp to communicate that they need help or indicate that a certain action is causing discomfort and they’d like it to stop.
Senior dogs may bark in distress at seemingly nothing. This barking may be compulsive and can be particularly prevalent at night. If your older dog is howling at night without an obvious trigger, this may be a sign that they are experiencing age-related cognitive decline or sundowning.
Depending on the reason(s) for your pup’s barking, there are things you can do to discourage their disruptive vocalizations and bring your canine friend back to peace. There are also things, however, that you should not do.
What not to do
Your first reaction to your dog’s barking may be to “bark” back by shouting or yelling. This actually encourages your dog to bark even more because they think you’re joining in.
You should always address a barking pup with a calm, firm voice. Another important tip for dealing with loud dogs is to never reward them for barking. When your dog is unnecessarily barking, avoid reacting at all, as reacting teaches them that barking gets them what they want: attention. Some dog trainers recommend that you turn your back, avoid eye contact, or otherwise ignore your barking dog until they’re quiet. Once they stop, reward the good behavior so that they learn that barking doesn’t help them in this scenario.
Training commands and redirecting
In general, it’s a good idea to teach your vocal pup a command (i.e. “Quiet”) that you can use when you need to get them to stop incessantly barking. Training your dog to be quiet on cue allows you to stop attention- and excitement-related barking in its tracks and redirect that urge towards another less disruptive behavior.
Dogs are smart animals. Owners can also train their furry friends to get their attention in other ways, cutting out the need to bark entirely. Need to go outside? Ring a bell by the door. Want to play? Bring Mom or Dad a toy. This eliminates the need to bark and helps you and your dog communicate in a much more effective way.
When it comes to triggered barking, being able to pinpoint the specific trigger your dog negatively reacts to is crucial. While you don’t necessarily want to discourage your dog from reacting to a serious threat, the mailman or another dog walking down the street isn’t usually dangerous. Desensitizing your dog to these events that they consider exciting, threatening, or scary may normalize it and help them learn that they don’t always have to bark.
It isn’t fair to expect your dog to play by your rules when their basic needs aren’t being met. As their parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure they are well-fed, secure, and have ample enrichment and exercise. You may have heard the phrase, “a tired dog is a quiet dog.” Getting energy out through plenty of exercise and mental stimulation may help your canine companion more easily relax throughout the rest of the day, which can help reduce barking associated with boredom, attention-seeking, and more. Daily walks, doggy daycare and playdates, and high-value, food-dispensing toys are great options to tire out your pup.
If your dog experiences separation anxiety while you’re away, they may be comforted by the next-best thing: something that smells like you. In addition to practicing desensitization to separation, you can leave your anxious pup with an old T-shirt or blanket that has your scent on it. Your dog can cuddle with the item and feel close to you until you return.
How can CBD help my barking dog?
ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can provide dogs support for cognitive function and both situational and general stress. If you suspect your aging pup’s barking might be a sign of mental decline, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products can help address these imbalances and offer cognitive support, which is important for carrying out everyday activities and maintaining a good quality of life.
If there’s one thing doctors and veterinarians will agree on, it’s that stress in any form is not good for you or your pet. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA chews, soft gels, and oils can help put your dog’s mind at ease, helping them to calmly address triggers that set off stress-related barking. In addressing your dog’s short-term and or long-term stress, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can lead to improved overall well-being. And we all want a happy and relaxed pup!
For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products or how CBD can help your canine friend live their best life, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help.